Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blunders from the Cubicle

It occurred to me the other day that I have been unfair and quite biased in my previous posts pertaining to my job (refer here and here). The picture I have painted has been one extremely skewed image, in which I am portrayed as the faultless, all-knowing voice on the opposite end of a phone line connecting directly to a world of buffoons and drunkards. I am not refuting the fact that, yes, my phone line does connect to a world that contains a shocking number of buffoons and drunkards. But in all fairness, I must admit to another side of the story: I too am a buffoon (but usually not a drunkard).

Evidence Profile #1: The Mute Button

Our phones come with a feature that I find myself both praising and cursing several times each day. The mute button is a simple little button within easy reach that, upon pressing, mutes my end of the line while still allowing me to hear my caller. It’s intended purpose is mostly for sparing the caller from hearing your sneezes or similar interruptions that are not worthy of using the “hold” button for. Most reps also use it when they can’t resist the urge to verbalize their rage towards the caller without the caller actually hearing them.

Several times each day I answer my phone while it is muted and can’t figure out why the caller isn’t responding to my greeting. More than once I have tried to mute my call for the purpose of verbalizing said rage, and not realized that I missed the button. And in one awkward moment, I once muted my phone to cover an urgent and fearsome sneeze- except I had forgotten that I was already muted. On the caller’s end, it probably sounded something like this… “>dead silence, dead silence, dead silence< BOOMING SNEEZE >dead silence, dead silence, dead silence <”. Awesome.

Evidence Profile #2: Ruined by Routine:

We don’t really have scripts to go by in my job, but we deal with enough of the same situations that sometimes things just become scripted. For example, after activating a card for someone, I usually advise them to “sign the back and it’s ready for use”. Similarly, after reporting a card lost, I would advise them to “please contact your bank to order a new card”. I wish I had a dollar for every time I finish reporting a card lost for someone, and then promptly advise them to sign the back of it and begin using it.

Another dilemma…we make both outbound and inbound phone calls. On a normal day, you will do primarily one or the other, but not both. However, if need requires it, sometimes a supervisor will ask you to switch from what you have been working for 5 hours and do the opposite. This is a cruel, despicable trick. I should add here that our phones do not ring for incoming calls, they simply beep into your headset. The beep sounds identical to that of an answering machine. I have left many strangers voicemails on their home phones that sounded much like this… “Thank you for calling >unidentified credit card company<, how may I help…ummm… aww man… *click*” (Before you judge me, know that I always call them back. But there comes a point where you just can’t recover from a failed script and have no other option but to abort.)

Evidence Profile #3: Well, just read on…

Ok, so this one didn’t happen in the cubicle, but it serves to prove the same point. I had to call my cell phone provider yesterday with questions concerning my bill. After a lengthy call in which all my concerns were addressed, our conversation neared its end. It went something like this:
Cell Phone Rep: Ok, so just to review your call today, I have updated this, that, and blah blah blah…
Me: Yep, sounds perfect
Cell Phone Rep: Ok… (short pause, I assume they were making notes)
Me: And is there anything else I can help you with today?
Cell Phone Rep: …excuse me...?
insert awkward pause

Me: ok, sorry. Thanks, bye… *click*

And to think, I don’t even have the excuse of alcohol to blame.


Leslie said...

That was too good Mo. I think I will have a little more compassion the next time I'm on the phone with somebody from a call center. :)

Angie said...

Oh my gosh, that last one had me literally laughing out loud. Hilarious! I think you could write a book about your job, Molly. Very entertaining stuff.